Essay Sample on Safety Management System Scalability and Voluntary Programs

Published: 2023-01-18
Essay Sample on Safety Management System Scalability and Voluntary Programs
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Security Airline industry Risk management
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1349 words
12 min read

Safety Management Systems (SMS) form a critical part of the safety operations of airlines. From a mere concept, SMS has evolved to become the globally accepted standard in safety operations. The SMS encourages an established structure and a culture of continuous learning in organizations in the aviation industry. As such, organizations can continually search for and analyze information and later turn it into action necessary in the mitigation and elimination of safety risks. SMS has reduced reliance on reactive safety programs and is gradually replacing them with proactive and predictive safety programs. To increase effectiveness, the SMS relies on four basic principles of safety promotion, safety assurance, risk management, and policy. The SMS recognizes the potential for unsafe conditions and human errors and thus facilitates the identification, tracking, analysis, and correction of safety risks, threats, or hazards. The system analysis thus identifies threats and develops procedural, operational, or technical mitigations to reduce the impact of a hazard, remove it completely, or combine the two to reduce the probability of an adverse outcome. The success of a Safety Management Program of any carrier is dependent on voluntary programs that enhance responsibility through reporting which enhances positive change in incident and accident prevention.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Integral components to the success of the SMS are the data acquisition and reporting programs that are applied in the aviation industry in different forms. In the United States, these programs are referred to as "Voluntary Safety Programs" and include Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA), Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA), Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Programs (VDRP, and Aviation Safety Action Partnership (ASAP). These voluntary programs enhance the frameworks and reporting culture necessary for SMS to operate effectively. LOSA, FOQA, VDRP, and ASAP voluntary programs are important considerations in the success of Part 121 carriers and a small Mom and Pop operation. Since SMS is scalable, small operators such as Mom and Pop and Part 121 operators can adopt smaller safety programs and improve them with increased expansion.

Voluntary Programs

Line Operational Safety Audit (LOSA)

LOSA is a tool that monitors the performance of the safety system of a carrier (Klinect, & Murray, 2005). This voluntary program encourages airlines to follow the data collection guidelines and protocols outlined by the LOSA Collaborative, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) or the FAA to conduct regular inspections of the cockpit and its operations. LOSA utilizes the Threat and Error Management (TEM) safety measure to observe the strengths and weaknesses of the performance of flight crew and system safety (Klinect, & Murray, 2005). The quality this program's data quality is dependent on the methodology followed and the execution of the process. The objective of LOSA is to observe and collect close-to-natural data for safety system and crew performance.

The success of this voluntary program in the carrier is dependent on ten operating characteristics (Klinect, & Murray, 2005). The organization should encourage peer-to-peer observations during the normal operations of the airline, which means that there should be no post-flight discussions or interviews with the crew or debriefings. Another characteristic is the use of trained and trusted observers including First Officers, Captains, and Flight Engineers. Also, the airline should ensure voluntary participation of the employees in the regular observation processes, whereby the crew can agree to or decline observation. The data collection process should be non-punitive, confidential, and anonymous such that it is solely used for safety purposes and not for disciplinary action, there should be no identifying information for the crew, and the observer should be anonymous. There should be joint management whereby there is a committee and signatures for all pilots and the data collection repository should be secured. In addition, airlines should have targets derived from data, data verification discussions, and systematic observations. After the collection and analysis of data, the organization should provide feedback to the workforce and provide adequate training and education on mitigation and elimination practices.

Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA)

This voluntary program is concerned with the collection and analysis of digital flight data during routine line operations. FOQA utilizes cumulative flight data to identify deviations from policy and unsafe flight practices and conditions (Vala, 2011). This program seeks to develop operating procedures and training programs for air carriers, improve the performance of flight crew, improve the design and operations of aircrafts, and facilitate maintenance practices. FOQA is a technological improvement of Flight Data Recorders (FDRs) that were used for accident investigation processes. FOQA enables routine analysis through the use of data obtained from Quick Access Recorders (QARs) that are downloadable and analyzable (Lowe, Pfleiderer, & Chidester, 2012). Review of this data enables operators to adopt practices to control unsafe parameters such as the establishment of safer standards and policies, improvement of pilot education and training, and reduction of operating costs. This program is important for part 121 carriers and small operators because it provides a recreation/playback option that provides a three-dimensional view of the movements of the aircraft and power level readings. The program is thus cheaper compared to others because it reduces the costs involved in regular observation and data collection by observers.

Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program (VDRP)

This voluntary program provides incentives for air carriers to voluntarily engage in the identification, reporting, and correction of any form of regulatory noncompliance. This program is based on the realization by the FAA that airline operators enhance safety operations when they have a chance to self-assess and report on their noncompliance and thus adopt measures to reduce the rate of recurrence of such issues. This program is beneficial as it does not involve any penalties for noncompliance. As such, it encourages compliance to FAA regulations, promotes internal communication, learning, and development of Internal Evaluation Programs (IEPs), and fosters safe systems and operating practices. VDRPs provide incentives in the form of reduced regulatory enforcement or immunity to operators and certificate holders that voluntarily submit their reports. On the other hand, regulatory agencies such as FAA and ICAO benefit from the reports as they can identify areas of non-compliance and existing risk and adopt corrective policies. In addition to the information provided in the self-disclosures, the process provides information on typical problems in the organization and industry, division of labor, usual practices, and other easily ignored or invisible issues that are important in risk management (Mills & Reiss, 2014). This form of secondary learning is critical in strengthening the SMS program in the organization.

Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP)

This voluntary program encourages repair station and air carrier employees to voluntarily report to the management safety information and errors that could be beneficial in identifying causes of accidents. Upon identification, the safety issues are corrected through the establishment of corrective policies. No discipline or punishment is involved (Patankar & Driscoll, 2004). After the identification of these errors, data is collected analyzed and retained for purposes of safety improvement. Since the report is non-punitive, the employee submitting an ASAP report and the contents of the report are confidential and there is no disclosure.

Therefore, four voluntary programs are applicable to Part 121 air carriers and small Mom and Pop operations. These include LOSA, FOQA, VDRP, and ASAP, each of which requires a carrier to obtain data regarding safety and use it to improve safety and reduce the occurrence or recurrence of inherent risks. The airlines can adopt smaller and more manageable SMSs since SMS is scalable and improve them as demand arises.


Klinect, J., & Murray, P. (2005). Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA): A Practical Overview. University of Texas/LOSA Collaborative, Third ICAO-IATA LOSA & TEM Conference, Kuala Lumpur.

Lowe, S. E., Pfleiderer, E. E., & Chidester, T. R. (2012). Perceptions And Efficacy Of Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) Programs Among Small-Scale Operators (No. DOT-FAA-AM-12/1). Federal Aviation Administration Oklahoma City Ok Civil Aerospace Medical Inst.

Mills, R. W., & Reiss, D. R. (2014). Secondary Learning and The Unintended Benefits of Collaborative Mechanisms: The Federal Aviation Administration's Voluntary Disclosure Programs. Regulation & Governance, 8(4), 437-454.

Patankar, M., & Driscoll, D. (2004). Preliminary analysis of Aviation Safety Action Programs in Aviation Maintenance. In Proceedings of the First Safety Across High-Consequence Industries Conference,[CD-ROM], St. Louis, MO (pp. 97-102).

Vala, L. (2011). Flight Operational Quality Assurance for University Aviation Operations.

Cite this page

Essay Sample on Safety Management System Scalability and Voluntary Programs. (2023, Jan 18). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism